A loud stop-and-frisk debate on the side

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The City Council hearing was supposed to be about the four bills known as the Public Safety Act, which would alter how New York City police officers interact with and question suspects and create a new inspector general's office for the police department.

But much of the attention to the proceedings was diverted by a "war of words" between Councilwoman Helen Foster, a critic of the stop-and-frisk policy, and the chairman of the Council's public safety committee, Peter Valone Jr.

Their argument had little to do with the substance of the issue, stemming from a procedural disagreement over how much digression was allowed in members' remarks to the first witness representing the Bloomberg administration.

Which was probably just as well for representatives of the administration, which disputes the Council's authority to pass these laws, and had no intention of getting drawn into a debate over the merits of stop-and-frisk. The mayor's counselor, Michael Best, didn't concede that there was a problem that needed to be addressed.

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